Cooking oil is a staple in every Australian foodservice kitchen. Most commercial kitchens will use a variety of oils depending on the type of food being prepared. Vegetable oil is popular because it is inexpensive, has no distinctive flavour so it won’t alter the dish, and can be used for a variety of foods.
In Australia, our most commonly used oilseed crops to produce vegetable oil are canola, cottonseed and sunflower. The Australian Oilseed industry produces around three million tonnes annually, and Australia uses over 600,000 tonnes of oils fats each year with the vast majority utilised in edible applications.
Another advantage of vegetable oil is the health benefits. Vegetable oils like canola and sunflower are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (which include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids). They are often referred to as oils that are healthy for the heart because they can reduce levels of harmful low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol in the blood, particularly when substituted for less healthy fats such as saturated fat.
Vegetable oil is commonly used in foodservice kitchens as well as at home for shallow frying as well as salad dressings and sauces. Other dishes include curries, stir fry, dips, marinades and gravies because of its neutral flavour, and low smoking point.
What is vegetable oil made from?
Vegetable oil is plant-based and often made from canola, corn, soybean or sunflower oils and in some cases may be flavoured with dried or fresh herbs.
Vegetable oil is derived from pressing oil from the seeds of the plant. This production process involves either a mechanical crushing process or a chemical extraction procedure. The mechanical method involves crushing and removing of the unwanted components, which is typically achieved through mechanical pressing. Vegetable oil extraction can also be completed by chemical extraction using a solvent. Solvent extraction is also used to remove the remaining oil content in the compressed plant material so very little goes to waste.
Once the oil has been extracted, a purification process removes any impurities that may still be present after the extraction process. Impurities can affect the taste, quality and clarity of the final product so this step is particularly important.
History of vegetable oil
Vegetable oils have been processed in different regions around the world for thousands of years. Initially people utilised whatever food stuffs they had on hand to obtain oils for a variety of cooking purposes. Early people learned to use the sun, a fire, or an oven to heat oily plant products until the plants exuded oil that could then be collected.
It is believed that people in China and Japan produced soy oil as early as 2000 BC, while southern Europeans began producing olive oil by 3000 BC. In Mexico and North America, peanuts and sunflower seeds were roasted and beaten into a paste before being boiled in water; the oil that rose to the surface was then skimmed off.
Similarly, Africans grated and beat palm kernels and coconut meat and then boiled the resulting pulp, skimming the hot oil off the water. Some oils have been discovered more recently as the technology to extract oil improved.
Not all vegetable oils are the same
At Steric we produce a premium vegetable oil that is widely used in foodservice kitchens. We recognise that its essential for everything from baking to frying to creating salad dressings and sauces and know that a high-quality product is a necessity.
Our long history in large-scale commercial food production helps us ensure that every bottle of oil we create and ship to foodservice kitchens across Australia is of a consistent high quality.
Australian-made Vegetable Oil
Sunshine Vegetable Oil is manufactured, bottled, packaged, and shipped from Steric’s advanced food manufacturing facility in Western Sydney.